Tips for Flying With a Large Dog, By Robert McLaughlin – Philly Love Award Winner of 2020

Tips for Flying With a Large DogFor any of my clients who have flown overseas I have always had the same thing to say. Get a good crate the CANNOT be broken out of. Zip tie the corners of the crates or where-ever there are separation points. Personally, I love the metal crates like the ones that Impact crates sells. I am not sponsored by them and they are very expensive. But again this brings us back to the point of all of this.

DO YOU HAVE TO FLY WITH YOUR DOG? I don’t believe that flying is an experience dogs need in their lives truthfully. Without proper training or the ability to have property to train for airplanes would require so much work and resource it’s barely possible. Service dogs are mandatory for handlers with disabilities and the dogs job is to fly with them. I remember hearing some outrageous statistic come from the FAA, something like 90% increase of dogs on flights for disorders. Although, now, it is a felony to impersonate a service dog I hardly see facilities that want to challenge a dog and have the possibility of court. I am unsure as of the status of ESA and Therapy dog as far as being able to ride in the plane besides under the plane which is where everyone truthfully will end up landing unless you have an actual service dog which standards can be found under the ADA guidelines. Requiring at least 120 hours of training recorded and documented, and that is only for the career itself. Bottom line, DO NOT FAKE A CERTIFICATE TO GET YOUR DOG ON THE PLANE. By doing things like that we allow the dogs to have accidents on planes, creating more issues for service dogs and any professionally trained dogs. To my knowledge even police dogs and military working dogs have to travel below the carriage.

ALWAYS, get the dog out as many times as you can before checking them in before the flight, or you will regret it. Remember, the bigger the dog – the more it will probably cost you to fly them with you. I always opt in for road trips because I love to see the world and also allow my dog to experience the world in many environments, meet many people, see many parks and rivers, smell and see things. After all our dogs are here for a much shorter time than we are.

I also do not ever feed the dog within 4 hours of the flight begin time. Water must be cut off about 2 hours before the flight. Again, these are my personal recommendations. One thing I always say is go to a veterinarian for medical advice, go to a trainer for training and real world application of handling skills. Sometimes thing cross over and it is not a good thing.

taking your dog on a flight

I have accounted for almost any scenario going wrong which is why I do not like to fly my dog anywhere. The off chance that the something happens under the plane is unknown to me exactly but the risk is more than I am willing to risk. The same as for a child, if there was a 4% chance your child might lose air or overheat and not make it on each flight you took would you still do it?

Put yourself in the mind of the dog before you do anything, and always expect a super messy crate on the end of a flight. We can never ask the dog “how did you handle the pressure change, or noises, or the feeling of flight and jet engines?”, but you should know your dog well enough to know his bathroom schedule, his anxieties, and their comfort levels in different scenarios. It is hard to leave a dog behind when traveling without them but leaving them in excellent hands is the best thing you can do for them. Once you land, break out the cleaning kit you packed with you- because the chances are high they have been stomping, laying, or sitting in their own mess for a while. I also keep in direct contact with the staff and flight crew to see how and where my dog is and will be. If you are stuck on a runway for a while in heat, know your dog will be hotter the longer you are stuck.

Be aware, be on point, and be prepared at all times. Have their food and water ready to go for them when you pick them up. Before feeding them, get them outside or wherever you can to go to the bathroom immediately. Feed, train, recover them, let them explore and have fun with the new environment.

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